Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mexico Week 18 -- Vamos Mexico!!!

My dear, sweet, beautiful, kind, loving, sickly family ... Sounds like everybody is a hot mess but I love you all just the same!! 

So, it is World Cup time!!  Biggest temptation in my life!!  I would love to watch the games!  Ahh, but it is okay because we bought Mexico shirts and they are too sweet!  So we are writing in a different Internet cafe this week and I can’t send pictures, but you guys have to see the pictures we took in our Mexico jerseys!  The World Cup is sweet! It's not like everything shuts down, but you can hear people yelling from within their houses! They get so pumped and I've got my jersey and will always be a Mexico fan! 

Hermana Buttars is halfway through her training!  I am going to hit six months in the mission soon.  For real, where is the time going?!  Hermana Buttars and I had some real bonding time this week.  She is an incredible person.  I love her to death and I never want to change companions!  I was also thinking that it is totally possible that I only have six weeks left in this area.  I am not very good with changes, so that could be interesting! HaHa!  It is so incredible to grow to have so much love for companions, members, people in the street … The mission is the best! 

So, I also got sick this week!  I didn’t vomit in a taxi again, but whew, mama was struggling.  Every time I ate something Tuesday, I got insane cramping in my stomach.  At about 6pm, I started to get the chills and then we went to ward council and they got worse.  We got home, I put on a sweatshirt, we planned, and then Hermana Buttars asks me, “ Are you going to call la Hermana Camarillo?”  I have pride problems, and so I told her I would wait till the morning to see if I still had a fever.  Well, my fever was higher in the morning so we called and to the doctor we went!!  I got my meds and now I am whole and recovered! But, maybe it is time to send those probiotics!!  Anyways, maybe it was just my body knew Mom and Rach were down this week and I got sympathy sick!

When I was sick, we had our Zone Conference with el Presidente and of course we went!!  It was so great!  We did this activity where I pretended to be an investigator that we have and Hermana Buttars tried to figure out what my doubt was through questions.  It was an amazing experience.  I pretended to be Antonio and it hit me that he has trouble believing in God and His love because his wife is in a bed, he lost a daughter a couple of years ago, and two grandkids in a car crash a few years before that.  He just can’t see that Heavenly Father loves us. Later at home, we did the same thing for Lupe and it hit me that she’s scared to receive an answer because that means that she’ll have to change her life.  She’s scared to change because she lives in a house of less active members.  Who’s going to support her?  Who’s going to help her live a new life?? It is so important that we truly teach people, that we know their doubts and fears and then apply the gospel to their lives to help them.  Receiving revelation is so cool! 

These past two weeks have been a little bit harder for us.  If I had peso for every time somebody told me they were Catholic and were never going to change, I could buy Mexico’s soccer team!  Haha, but really!  It would be so easy just to get discouraged, but we have been really working on staying positive.  Also, in Preach My Gospel it talks about having faith in Moroni’s promise. We have to believe that if people read and pray with sincere hearts, the Lord truly will answer them.  I have been trying to put more faith in this promise, to still encourage them to read the Book and Mormon and pray about it.  I know that the Lord sent us both here to this area for a reason.  I know that there are people here looking for the gospel ... we just have to find them! 

This week I pulled out an old favorite talk of mine ... “The First and Great Commandment” by Jeffrey R. Holland.  I felt a new fire this morning, that I need to put absolutely everything I have into these 18 months and truly my whole life. What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?  Do we truly love Him?  What do our actions say about this love?  He needs us, everything single one of us, missionaries or not.  He needs us to love Him and love His work.  He needs us to take care of His lambs because He can’t do it all.  He needs our help, love, devotion, and loyalty.  I pray that I can be the disciple that He needs me to be, despite my many, many faults and weaknesses!  He’s counting on me and He’s counting on you too!! 

I love you all too, too much. Be good and be disciples! 

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Mexico Week 17 -- Let's Get Caught Living the Gospel

To all of my favorite people in this world, 

First things first, HAPPY FATHERS DAY DAD!  I love you tons and you have always been an amazing example to me!  I hope that our family spoiled you rotten! 

The rains are coming!!  Please enjoy my awesome storm pictures as it storms almost every night! Those are the nights that Hermana Buttars and I buy ice cream as we get soaked! 

Also! Mas o menos, I know the story of Great-Grandpa on dad’s side, but what are the conversion stories on both sides of the family?  I am going to be such a family history nerd after the mission. 

I got Rach’s graduation announcement and she is beautiful!! I LOVE the announcement! 

La Hermana is Vania!  She is so awesome and does such a great job with the young women in the ward. 

We have a new investigator!  Her name is Veronica and she is practically perfect!  We met her outside of her apartment building.  We have had three lessons with her and every single one has been incredible!  She is so prepared and we feel the strongest spirit in her home.  She is reading the Book of Mormon and praying about everything.  She is really sweet and my evidence that the Lord prepares people to receive His gospel!  She has a cat that had 5 kittens about five days ago and they are tiny!!  I definitely thought of Sister Randall and when she converted me to liking cats! Ha! Ha!  If it wasn’t against mission rules, Hermana Buttars and I would have one! 

So this week we visited the Moreno family. We met them in the street and they are so perfect!  The wife and daughter had baptismal dates and are just great, great people.  We went by one night and their dad told us that he just wanted to be honest and that they were never going to change religions. His house is our house whenever we want because we are friends, but they just aren’t going to change.  He told us that his wife had thought about it, but they were going to stay Catholic.  So we enter their home and find the mom and daughter and ask if we can sing some hymns.  They tell us sure and we are all in the kitchen and the dad gives us the same speech again. The look on Brenda’s face is saying that she really does have interest and wants to learn more.  We sang “Yo Se Que Vive Mi Señor” and shared testimony of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon.  Brenda gave me the biggest hug and I just know that she wants it!  Ahh, its hard because you don’t want to cause problems in the family but she also has the desire to learn.  I think that this is one of the reason I am so grateful to be in the Gospel and a big reason I am so determined to be married in the temple.  We just can’t have religious conflict in the home!  We need to all be on the same page! 

So awesome story of the week!  We had a Family Home Evening with the Reynaga family!  I was looking through some Liahona’s for ideas and found a sweet FHE!  So we talked about temples and we all drew one!  We listened to some Paul Cardall music and was just really special.  Paty asked Roxton to draw their family there.  I started thinking about my family and the family home evenings I want to plan and have!  Ahh, I got so excited to be a cheesy Mormon mom!  Haha, but really, it was probably the highlight of my week and I am so grateful to be here with some really special families. 

So we have an investigator named Lupe.  I have so much faith in her, but we really need to get some more friends for her that aren’t her mother in law!  We got to the lesson one night and I was tired and feeling a little stressed and anyways, we started to teach Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy.  Their house is always a mad house and then her mother in law starts talking about how important the sacrament is ... then she adds … Well, as long are there aren’t any kids there.  Because if kids are there you can’t feel anything and you might as well just not even go to church.  Here’s me, starting to get annoyed with everything.  I just took a deep breath and started talking.  The spirit was so strong. The words just fell out of me after that.  I got a little choked up and just said I go to church because I need help, that I literally can’t make it through the week without the Lord’s help.  I need my 15 minutes of the sacrament to be filled with hope and healing and love.  The whole room got really quiet and nobody had anything to say.  My companion continued teaching, but whoa, I just felt the strongest spirit. This is what it means to teach with power and authority. 

But truly, I love the sacrament.  Yesterday was the first time we took it in two weeks because of stake conference.  I just feel it, I really feel it when I need to take the sacrament.  Before, I was stressed, I felt like we were working really hard but not seeing any results.  We took the sacrament and I just felt different.  I had more faith and hope in the Savior and I didn’t feel so stressed and negative.  The sacrament truly does cleanse us … it purifies us.  I am so grateful for this opportunity almost every week. 

I ran into Hermana Valdez this week!  It was so fun to see her again and introduce our new companions!  Love this girl!!

Well I would like to wrap this up with a quote this week that I loved from Jeffrey R. Holland. He said, “When He comes, I so want to be caught living the gospel.  I want to be surprised right in the act of spreading the faith and doing something good.  I want the Savior to say to me Jeffrey, I recognize you not by your title, but by your life, the way you are trying to live and the standards you are trying to defend.  I see the integrity of your heart.  I know you have tried to make things better first and foremost by being better yourself and then by declaring my word and defending my gospel to others in the most compassionate way you could.  He will certainly add I know you weren’t always successful with your own sins and with the circumstances of others, but I believe you honestly tried. I believe in your heart you truly loved me. “

Let’s try to be like that.  If the Savior were to come tomorrow, could He say that to every member of our family?  Well, I have some work to do, but I love this vision! 

Love you all to the moon and back! 

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mexico Week 16 -- Ups and Downs

 My Dear Sweet Favorite Family! 

I think I have a new love and they are called mangoes! For real, I am like Marley from Marley and Me! The fruit in the picture is called a pitalla! They are the weirdest things but I really do like them! Umm, I also decided that I would like Nutella!  Fun fact ... I like avocados! I always said that I didn’t but I actually haven’t tried them. I tried them and now I know that I like them! Also, Hermana Gudelia in our ward makes and sells the most incredible ice cream. It’s like the family business!  It is all natural and there a gal that makes the cones out back from batter.  Seriously, the coolest thing I’ve ever seen and I don’t think any ice cream will ever top it!  Okay, I think that covers everything that has to do with food :)

Mom, kids are loving your treats here! Seriously, you should see kids faces when we put the towels in water!  So fun!  Sometimes we take the simplest of things for granted, like towels from the dollar store with characters on them, or using a box of crayons with more than eight colors, or markers that smell!  I love watching them get so excited as they experience these for the first time.  It is such a great reminder to appreciate the smallest and most simple things in life.

I got to see Hermana Mansfield this week! She’s had two trainers and they’ve both returned home early from their missions.  She’s struggling a little bit and is with the sister training leaders. She is still working on finishing her training program.  I will never stop having gratitude for Hermana Valdez.  I am amazed by Hermana Mansfield’s determination and strong will to just roll with the punches!

This week for stake conference we went to the chapel that is right next to the temple!  It is outside of our mission boundaries, so who knows when we will get to return, but it was so pretty!  The Infante family brought us.  How awesome is it that y’all are Facebook buds and rockin pictures for Tyler! 

I have a question for you guys! One of the hermanas in our ward has a twin sister in the mission field and her sister asked her what blessings they have received from her being on a mission. I thought that was an interesting question and you should all hit me up with a response! 

Well much happened this week...good and bad! 

First things first, Antonio loved his GIANT Book of Mormon!  He could totally see everything and it made such a difference in his ability to read.  We were so excited to see him later in the week and see how far he had gotten.  We went to clean the house again on Friday!  His bathroom and bedroom under the direction of Claudia!  Not gonna lie, they were pretty nasty, but that’s what service is all about right?  A couple of days later, I just got really frustrated with this old fart.  It’s like on paper he’s doing all of the right things, but he just doesn’t feel it.  I’ve really been dumping my heart out to Heavenly Father every day. In our weekly planning, we planned a whole hour just for him. I just felt like we received a ton of revelation for him.  Before his lesson on Friday, we studied a ton, we practiced and felt the spirit so strong.  We were going to rock this Word of Wisdom lesson! I was so pumped to teach Him! 

So we start teaching, we are teaching so good together and really feeling the spirit, I can see it in Hermana Antonio’s eyes too that he’s really listening. ‘I said things that I know didn’t come from me.  Well at the end of the lesson, some kind of switch flips and he gets fired up telling us that drinking coffee isn’t a commandment from God.  Also that he doesn’t need to repent for all of the adultery that he committed because it’s natural.  Actually, he said he won’t pray to know if it’s a commandment or not.  He’s still fired up and I just felt the spirit really strong and told him that we respected him a lot.  We know that we have a lot to learn from his life of experience, and then I asked him for his respect.  Because even though we are young, we have experiences too.  We are representatives of Jesus Christ that invite people to come unto Christ and to know Him and His laws and how we are going to make it home.  We are not going to force him, but we are giving him the opportunity to know the truth. Then I asked him to say the closing prayer.  He had this look on his face and his tone of voice completely changed and he said he would offer the closing prayer. 

Leaving there, I was thinking so much about Carlos Contreras ... another night we left after a rough lesson.  It is truly heartbreaking when we leave a house and even a desire to know the truth or follow it isn’t there.  Actually, I started thinking about Heavenly Father.  He taught all of His kids for who knows how long.  He taught every single one of us the plan.  He loved us so much and knew exactly what we needed to make it back to Him.  And yet, a third of his kids said no.  I can’t even imagine how he felt.  Missionaries like Abinadi and Alma loved people and they taught people who rejected the message too.  The truth is, it is hard because you love them.  For as frustrated as he makes me, I just love the heck out of him.  He prays for health every single day but also drinks coffee every day.  He has chronic health issues and won’t follow the directions from the doctor.  Sometimes I just want to say, “Hey buddy, you can’t pray for health every day and ignore Heavenly Fathers health code.”  

I started thinking about the things that I’m praying for.  Am I following the counsel Heavenly Father has given me?  Praying with faith means that we do something, we try something.  He’s answering us, He’s giving us the counsel.  Obedience is so important and it is the answer to everything.  We just have to have the faith that He loves us and His commandments are loving instructions.  Then, we have to show our love and obey.  Half obedience means half blessings. We can’t receive a blessing without obedience to the law upon which it was predicated. 

So, the other day, we visited Hermana Ester.  I told her sorry for not having more patience with her husband and explained what we taught and how he responded.  I told her how I felt and afterward, we sang some hymns.  We taught her how to pray in her mind the last time and asked her if she’s been praying.  She told us yes and that she feels better when she prays.  We prayed before we left and I held her hand like I always do, but her hands are super limp. While we were praying, with the tips of her fingers, she squeezed my hand. It was the most incredible thing and I know that sometimes our Heavenly Father answers prayers through other people.  Ah, it was just one of those mission moments that I am never going to forget. 

So Hermana Claudia took my blood pressure this week and it was super high, like wow, never been that high before!  It kind of freaked me out and I realized how stressed I have been.  In this past General Conference David A. Bednar said "I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lives and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all alone - through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities.  It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to the earth to die for us, but we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to enliven us, not only to guide but also to strengthen and heal us."  Wow!  Is that true or what?  When I was set apart and also when I received a blessing before leaving the MTC, both talked about learning more fully how to come unto Christ. I think sometimes I think that I just have to work really hard, like really, really hard, and after, I can feel His love, approval, and forgiveness.  I think I’m starting to learn that this is not how it works.  I think the lesson I need to learn is that we can feel these things every step of the way. I know that the Savior lives and I know that one of my biggest trials is to overcome my perfection problems and let Him love me and let Him help me. Good thing I’m firming up this relationship with Him right now! I hope that someday my kids can read this stuff and hopefully they can learn from my challenges and I can be somewhat of an example for them! 

I love you all so much!  I’m a little jealous that I am missing out on graduation and Nat and Tony this week but know that I love y’all tons!

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Mexico Week 15 -- Sonrisas Para Todos

To my favorite people in the world! 

Well good news! I found my memory card! Two weeks later and the guy had it in the Internet cafe!  Obviously Heavenly Father loves me a lot!  I’m also grateful for a companion that will play with random dogs in the street with me. Who knows if they’re dirty or not, but they sure are cute! 

So Hermana Buttars got sick this week!  Throwing up and everything!  I don’t miss those days!  I think all of us Americans pass through it, some strange rite of passage or something.  We took her to the doctor Friday afternoon and she got two days at home in bed!  Well turns out Saturday was Paty and Roxton’s baptismal service and well ... we may not have fully followed the doctor’s orders ... we went!  

Anywho, I was talking care of Hermana Buttars this weekend. I’m really coming into my mom role! Translating at the doctor’s office. Giving her the meds and watching the hours.  I started thinking about taking care of my own sick kids one day. Maybe I really can pull off this whole mom thing! 

So while Hermana Buttars was down Saturday, I read the book, “Our Heritage”.  I love reading church history ... absolutely love it!  I just know that it’s all true.  I can’t believe all of the persecution that the saints suffered.  They are such an example of faith and patience to me.  They completely trusted in the Lord even though they were moving all over the place.  They fought so hard and suffered so much for the truth.  What am I going to do for the truth?  I’ve been a little bit of a baby these past two weeks but I’ve got my feet back under me.  I loved my quiet time just to study in the house.  I know that the Lord loves me and I know that our relationship is growing stronger and stronger.  I know that I can do all things through Him.  I want to do everything that He has planned for me here.  I’m just happy and ready to work!  Hermana Buttars is back in the game too! 

Yesterday, Paty and Roxton were confirmed ... barely!  They have a hard time making it to church on time and they have to walk about a million miles to get there!  I called her in the morning and they were getting up and getting ready and told me they’d be there!  Well, 10 o´clock comes and goes, then we take the sacrament, and we hit about 10:30 and no one is answering phones or anything.  This is about the part where I feel like I’m going to throw up because next week is Stake Conference so they would be waiting about two weeks if it didn’t happen today.  Finally we see them all coming!  Roxton gives me the saddest look and asks me, “Ya pasó la hora de mi confimación?” – Basically he thought it was too late.  I told him I didn’t think so!  With about 10 minutes left in sacrament meeting, we’re sitting in the back with them.  I start making gang signs to get the attention of the bishopric and we got them confirmed at the end of the meeting! 

Okay, last little story!  As we were welcoming people to church, the elders showed up with this hermana and her daughter.  She gets really excited and tells me “Remember me?  We met on the bus!”  I recognized her and remembered about a month or two ago, I talked with this family on the bus.  They told me that they were meeting with missionaries earlier, but that they had stopped coming.  Her sister is a member and everything.  I gave her the number to the mission offices and we chatted a bit.  It was so cool to see her at church but I’m a little jealous that she lives in the area of the elders!  She told me after sacrament meeting in Gospel Principles that her daughter didn’t want to go to her Primary class.  She wanted to Hermana Rawe, because she just thought I was a good person.  How precious is that!  She’s 7 and her name is Vania.  After Relief Society her daughter came and found me and we chatted a little bit. That was just a good day! 

I love you all and am so grateful for all of your support. I hope that you are all happy and being good! Know that you’re always in my heart and prayers! Love you! 

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Paty and Roxton Reynaga

Paty and Roxton were both interviewed on Wednesday.  Elder Lopez tells me "Hermana Rawe, Roxton is good to go, but we have some problems with Paty."  My stomach dropped and my heart started beating really fast and I'm thinking to myself, "NO!  Por favor, no!"  After about three minutes he tells me, "Nah, I'm just kidding, they're both good to go!"  Seriously!  He almost gave me a heart attack being funny! 

The actual baptism was great!  We sang "Eternas Puedan Ser Las Familias".  I so love that song!  Eros Infante, who's 16, baptized them both.  His whole family was pumped and it was super cool. Well, they both had to be baptized about three times because elbows and things like that.  Roxton was breathing so hard and then his face just read, "AGAIN??"  A little comical, but afterward Paty shared her testimony and it was just a good day. 

I love the way I feel at baptisms!  It's such a strong and different spirit.  I can feel that we're helping people.  It's like Jesus Christ finding a lost sheep and there is nothing else in the world like this feeling!

This is why I'm here guys! 

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